weekly Reflection

The Last Sunday after the Epiphany

February 23, 2020

This week our Gospel lesson takes us to a mountain top to witness the Transfiguration: a divine revelation if there ever was one! Throughout Holy Scripture mountains play a pivotal role in the history of God's people for, like the desert, they are places of divine revelation. 

Scripture recounts many “mountain top” experiences. For instance,  just as a mountain top was the setting for the mystery and awe that Jesus' disciples felt as they saw him transfigured before their eyes; the other two figures that accompanied Jesus in this vision, Moses and Elijah, each had their own direct encounters with God on a mountain top.

Most of you are familiar with the Hollywood account of Moses, AKA Charlton Heston, who climbed Mount Sinai as a troubled man in early middle age, only to undergo a transformation from his experience of God on the mountain top.  In Cecil B. DeMille's movie "The Ten Commandments", after Moses encounters God speaking to him through the burning bush, he proceeds down the mountain, visibly aged, his face aflame, his hair turned shocking white. On the mountain top, God had revealed God's purpose to Moses and forever changed him. He was transformed.

The prophet Elijah also wandered upon a mountain, searching for God. He endured mighty acts of nature rather than run for shelter because he figured that God must be present within the storms that raged about him. God's power was so awesome, he reasoned, that God could only be found in these extreme circumstances - in violent flashes of lightening or in the crash of thunder or in the rush of a mighty wind. But to his dismay, he didn't find God in any of these dramatic events.  Instead, on his mountain top, when the storms had died down, and the wind had quieted, he had his mountain top experience, for Scripture tells us that in the quiet that followed the storm, Elijah found God in a "still, small voice.” Elijah too was transformed by this experience of God.

Their stories remind me of a prophet who reflected upon yet another mountain top experience. On the night before he was martyred, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of his own transformation, when, in seeking to do God's will, he dreamed of climbing to the mountain top, where he could see the promised land open up before him and the glory of God revealed - a dream that he believed could be achieved.

These mountain top experiences are inspiring for us, encouraging each of us to make that  climb up to our own mountain tops and be transformed; for we undergo great changes when we seek to know God, to listen for that "still, small voice" and become the people that God is calling us to be.  And we don't have to go far to find those thin places where we can encounter God and be transformed; the mountaintop is right here in our own hearts.